On the Sauce: Highland Rita, Ulele

Those standard happy hour margaritas will never taste the same again.

click to enlarge On the Sauce: Highland Rita, Ulele - Chris Fasick
Chris Fasick
On the Sauce: Highland Rita, Ulele

It's not a cocktail — it's an experience.

It, in this case, is the Highland Rita at Tampa Heights' Ulele .

Created by Keith Sedita, Columbia Restaurant Group vice president of new business development, the Highland Rita gets its name from Ulele's location along Highland Avenue, but also from the Patrón tequila distillery's headquarters: the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico.

While the drink calls for what every margarita should — fresh lime juice — it's simplicity ends there.

For local flair, the eatery incorporates St. Petersburg Distillery's Tippler's Orange Liqueur, which Sedita says he chose based on its quality. The real star is the Patrón, though. Sedita and Columbia Restaurant Group's Richard Gonzmart and Curt Gaither traveled to Mexico to handpick barrels of the Patrón Añejo used in the cocktail. According to Sedita, the restaurant group was the first company to select its own Patrón barrels.

Later on, empty barrels are repurposed at the on-site Ulele Spring Brewery, where they're used to age various suds.

Whether you visit Ulele for the Highland Rita or make it on your own at home, be forewarned, those standard happy hour margaritas will never taste the same again.

Ulele's Highland Rita

Makes 1

1 1/2 ounces Selected Barrel Patrón Añejo

1/2 ounce Tippler's Orange Liqueur

3/4 ounces Organic Tres Agave Nectar

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 lime wheel

Place all ingredients in a mixing glass, then add ice. Shake with a shaker tin with a minimum 6 rotations. Pour into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with the lime wheel.

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